20110814_Long Lawford to Cawston via Church Lawford Walk
Who : Me and my 9 year old Son Craig
Where : Long Lawford to Cawston (West + South of Rugby, Warwickshire).
Maps : OS 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.222 Rugby and Daventry
Start Point : Approx SP471,758…. End Point : Approx SP474,734
Distance : Approx 10.3 km (6.4 miles)
Heights Climbed : Nothing really very significant at all, certainly nothing steep. See the end of diary for some details though.
If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
Summary : A nice countryside wander across mixed farmland on the outskirts of Rugby. Starting in Long Lawford ; Crossing the River Avon ; Little Lawford ; King’s Newnham ; Across the Avon again ; Church Lawford (passing The Old Smithy Pub) ; Under the west coast mainline railway ; Lawford Heath ; Rugby Western Relief Road ; Old Rugby-Leamington Railway (Cawston Greenway) ; and then a final bit of ruralness before arriving home in the newish Cawston Grange Housing Estate.
After writing the above, I’ve kind of almost said it all the nitty gritty stuff really, but I’ll expand the story anyway. It was a lovely Sunday morning, so I decided it’d be just perfect for a bit of a local wander and I busied myself getting a little bit of kit ready, when Craig piped up and asked if he could come too. Delighted that he wanted to come with me, I readily agreed and we soon found ourselves being dropped off in Long Lawford (near the corner of Chapel Street on Railway Street), by my lovely wife, sort of en-route to taking our daughter to a cello lesson.
It was an easy start to the walk, heading north on Chapel Street, until just past St. John’s Church at the end of the road. From here we picked up an obvious path heading slightly to the left, which soon took a dogs-leg left and then bent round back northwards again bounded by fences on both sides. The small fields either side would probably be better described as paddocks’ as they often house a selection of ponies. It’s quite amazing how quickly built up areas can become rural and this walk certainly fits that bill as the track drops gently down to cross the River Avon via a farm bridge.
The Avon here is really very small, little more than a stream really, meandering through the fields. However, don’t be completely fooled, the river can and does flood quite frequently after heavy rain, evidenced by the raised walk-way approaching and crossing the bridge at least a couple of feet above track level. A short distance further on and we entered the Mill complex at Little Lawford. This is an attractive group of buildings which have timeless feel about them. From here we should have crossed a small wooden footbridge, but the cattle on the far side somehow looked a bit skittish, and I felt quite uneasy about taking Craig into their field. This didn’t matter overly, as I took us through the old mill complex on its wide track (slightly off the right of way, I’m afraid though), but this also had the side effect of bringing us out close to the old ford.
The little detour down to the river is worth doing (it’s only a few yards) and whilst we were there we were lucky enough to be joined by 3 riders on horseback. The three of them slowly entered the ford and one of the horses in particular really seemed to enjoy itself, stamping its front legs, splashing at the waters. I was surprised when they turned around and headed back from where they’d come, rather than head all the way through the ford and out the other side – it transpired it was just a cooling off detour.
Anyway, enough of the ford, because, as pretty as this spot is, we had to drag ourselves away and continue our walk, heading up the lane passing a really old building built from grey stone. The very square, almost severe, looking house has the date 1604 set into the stonework. I’m not hot on my history, but this dates back to when :-
- The Stuarts were the ruling Royal family, James 1st of England had just come to the throne, taking over from Elizabeth-1st.
- Protestants and Catholics were at loggerheads (1605 = Gunpowder plot).
- James 1st commissioned his authorized version of The Bible.
- Shakespeare was walking the boards (probably the most famous Warwickshire person of all time ?)
- and … a little later on in 1607, marked the establishment of Jamestown in the “New World”.
And the list goes on …. So I guess if the walls could talk, they’d have some tales they could tell us.
We carried on (up Clay Hill Lane) to meet Little Lawford Road and turned left (westwards). My plan was to walk along the road for maybe half a mile or so, to pick up a footpath across to King’s Newnham; but Craig had other ideas, not wanting to walk on the road at-all, his demeanour was quite adamant to avoid the tarmac if at-all possible!. So, after just a few yards (at the junction with a minor road heading north towards Cathiron) we turned off right taking a footpath diagonally across the pasture field. The path is on the map and access into the field is fine, but the path didn’t show up on the ground, so, trying to be as accurate as possible I took a compass bearing across the wide field. Once through the next boundary we emerged into an area with some duck ponds; one of which was quite sizeable and quite attractive, with its backdrop of Brown’s Spinney framing the pool nicely.
The scene was further enhanced by a pair of swans and a good number of ducks including a large crèche of nearly-grown ducklings, well over 2-dozen of them, congregating together like teenagers wandering the local high street; the associated adult ducks were sensibly keeping well clear of the throng in a smaller group under the tree branches at the far side of the pool.
It’s so easy to spend too long near water, and we again had to encourage ourselves to move on again, now having to concentrate on map reading to work out where the right of way went to get past the pools and then skirt to the south of Fennis Fields Farm. The navigation wasn’t too taxing on my aging brain cells though and we’d soon reached where a path turned half-left, heading diagonally across a semi-ploughed field. The path was faintly on the ground saving the need to take a compass bearing. As we stopped here for a quick drink, a couple of fellow walkers passed by, heading off on the same path we were soon to take. I liked how quickly they became diminutive figures, dwarfed by a big sky and billowing clouds above; I particularly liked the sense of space here (an unusual feeling for me in Warwickshire) as we set off in the same direction.
I wouldn’t say this was a very large field, but I’m pleased it wasn’t fully ploughed and wet, ‘cause it could have been quite hard work rising up to the hedge in the distance. Once through the hedge the path continued across the next field, also in a diagonal direction. The two walkers that had passed us earlier had (for some reason or another) decided to skirt around the field edges instead, which meant by the time we’d crossed the field and stood back on Little Lawford Road we were now ahead of them again, rather than walking in their footsteps.
Crossing straight over the road, we then had a small field to cross, heading for the corner, where a small square was partitioned off (little more than allotment sized) with a tiny crop of maize growing. At the corner we crossed into the next rather scruffy field, which, after skirting the manor house complex of King’s Newnham (previously known as Newnham-Regis) we got a view of the ancient tower. Sorry, but I don’t know much about this, however, I’ve found out the tower is the ruined remains of the demolished Church of St. Lawrence. I’ve read that it may date back as far as the 12th Century, but this is uncertain and the church was demolished in the middle of the 18th Century; just leaving the tower which now stands in a Farm yard.
From The Manor, we dropped down towards the River Avon again, passing close to a dilapidated set of cogs and associated broken down machinery. The earthworks here-about suggest to me this was perhaps a small water “mill” of some kind, long since defunct and out of use. A few yards further on brought us to a long footbridge leading us over The Avon for the second time in the day. The actual stream was almost hidden from view by the profuse and vibrant reeds and other water loving plants.
Once over the bridge, we continued on, almost due south now, gently rising through some more small scruffy fields, to reach Green Lane, which soon brought us into the heart of Church Lawford village at The Old Smithy Pub. Craig fancied a call-in for a J20 and a packet of peanuts, but I resisted the temptation (a pint would have been nice, but really wasn’t needed) and instead we perched ourselves on a bench opposite the entrance, on the small village green, for the refreshments (including mini-apple pies) that I’d had the foresight to pack.
Once sated, we set off again heading down Church Road (eastwards now) past the very ornate and attractive Manor House (circa 16th C) to reach St. Peter’s Church. The path heads through the graveyard to the right of the church and emerges into pasture fields; the path plainly visible marking our route. This is so well walked I can’t imagine it will ever disappear. In fact, I think every book, without exception, of local walks I’ve picked up has this route published in some guise or another :- A mini Coventry and Warwickshire classic! …. The views back to the church here epitomise rural Warwickshire, beautiful in a gentle, understated way.
A couple of fields further on and after crossing a field boundary, the path diverges into two: One carries straight on (easterly) which would bring you back to the start point in Long Lawford [in less than a mile], giving a very pleasant circular; The second and less obvious route swings south to cross under the West Coast Mainline railway (Rugby-Coventry section) via a brick archway. We were lucky enough to see a Virgin Pendolino hurtle past on its dash towards Rugby and I guess beyond to Euston in London. The resulting photo I took is OK I think, where I tried to keep the arch sharp and allow the train to blur to give an impression of speed. I’ll let you decide if it works OK or not.A wide access track then brought us up past what appears to be some kind of water treatment works to meet the A428 Coventry Road. Our route turned us right along the road for a couple of hundred yards or so, to mid-way along a small spinney, where we then carefully crossed to pick up a bridleway heading south up towards Lawford Heath. The right of way basically follows the hedge line of a couple of sizeable fields on wide verges. We should have made good time here with the lack of stiles and map-reading to do, but no, new distractions emerged to keep the pace quite slow; this included Craig catching grass-hoppers in the tall grasses with his bare hands (he’s good at this!) and then wanting to “surf” on top of several of the “rotoballe” hay-bales scattered around one of the fields. I don’t know if it’s sad or not, but I do like the imagery of these rolled up hay-bales and I could have spent as long trying to compose the perfect photo as Craig would have spent climbing on the cylindrical objects.
Time was passing though and we needed to press on, the bridleway fairly easy to navigate as it leveled out to reach a minor country road [Ling Lane], where we turned left for a couple of hundred yards of road walking. Even this was interrupted for several minutes as Craig watched a tractor pulling a small harvesting device which every now and again would “give birth” to another rotoballe hay-bale, spitting them out around the field at regular intervals.
At the end of Ling Lane (T-Junction with the slightly larger Lawford Heath Lane) we crossed straight over to join another bridleway heading down the side of a hedge and it wasn’t far before we started an easy descent into a shallow valley; after dropping down the side of a second field we crossed a small footbridge to then rise up to a brand-spanking new major footbridge across the Rugby Western Relief Road (A4071). The size of this is bridge seems rather incongruous when considering the mini-bridge we’d crossed moments earlier, but it is a stand-out structure in the landscape and isn’t by any means unattractive.
Almost as soon as we’d crossed the new bridge, we had another, much older one to cross, this time made of blue brick rather than shiny steel. This crosses over the old Rugby to Leamington Railway Line (or what was known as The Lias Line) and is now long since defunct as a working railway. Over the years the line has become overgrown and naturalised, almost a long thin wood with a sinuous pathway down the middle. This is used by ramblers, dog walkers and off-road cyclists but can be muddy and quite narrow in places ….
Above 3x Pix are taken from the same place, in JULY-2009, JAN-2011 + AUG 2011
…. but these problems are improving dramatically as a local community project called Cawston Greenway (running alongside the Cawston Grange Housing Estate) is turning it into a nature reserve. This is being done, oddly enough, by cutting back and thinning the trees and rough undergrowth to allow sunlight to reach the floor and hopefully dry out the ground and at the same time allow grass and wild-flowers to grow, creating whole new habitats to encourage a diverse selection of wildlife.
From the bridge there’s a way down the bank to reach the old track bed, but that wasn’t for us, as we headed straight over the bridge to enter a pasture field (often with cows or sheep or sometimes both) to follow a hedge on our left. At the end of this field we crossed into the next one, which was full of a ripening wheat crop, the path ahead plainly obvious. Craig, even though he’d walked nearly 6 miles, set off at a run and was soon way ahead of me; I had no concerns though, as we’ve walked this path so many times now I’ve lost count. He waited at the far end of the field for me to catch up, where we then continued between a couple of houses to reach the newly renamed B4642 Coventry Road.
Please note, THIS Coventry Road (B4642) is NOT the same Coventry Road (A428) crossed earlier in the walk and to confuse matters even more, online maps and even local sign-posts still sometimes insist this is the A4071, whereas the tag A4071 is now attached to the Relief Road, also crossed earlier in the walk. If you’re following this route, the path emerges almost opposite Cawston Lane, and there is no confusion about that name! We stood for a moment or two watching a combine harvester noisily unloading its load of grain into a trailer in the field next to the lane. Our walk was now nearly over, as we turned left alongside the Coventry Road (towards Rugby) and then keeping slightly left at a small stand of tall trees.
We were now on the edge of the fairly new Cawston Grange Housing Estate, and we took a left turn onto a gravel path that runs around the estate. Now, we live on the estate, so it was just a case of walking through the streets to home and a coffee. I’m sorry, but as I don’t live in a coffee shop I’m gonna leave this post as finishing at the end of Trussell way (not my home), which is where I’ve started/finished several of my other walks diaries, so it seems logically neat to end here. Trussell Way also has plenty of room for parking, so it’d be easy to be picked up from here. Alternatively, you could easily add a couple more miles to the walk and drop down to Long Lawford via several routes. If you want, have a browse through some of my other local routes for some ideas how to do this … Maybe this one might fit the bill.
Well that’s about it, the end of another enjoyable day in the countryside with the added bonus of my son’s company on the walk:- Super !
Rough idea of up-hill heights during the walk (I’m reluctant to call them Climbs coz they’re so not difficult).
- 1 = approx 20m / 66 ft (Avon at Little Lawford to Before King’s Newnham)
- 2 = approx 15m / 50 ft (Avon at King’s Newnham to Church Lawford)
- 3 = approx 30m / 100 ft (Railway Arch nr Avon to Lawford Heath)
- 4 = approx 10m / 33 ft (Mini Footbridge nr Relief Road to Cawston)
Ta-Ta again, Gary.